LinkedIn can be a powerful online networking tool, but because it lacks some of the intuitiveness present in other social networks, it typically takes some targeted and strategic action to see the benefit. One part of LinkedIn with tremendous potential for networking is the Groups section.
While it may take some initial research and planning, you can make LinkedIn Groups a highly effective tool with just a small chunk of time each day. I’ve created a rundown of some of the most productive ways to use your membership in a LinkedIn Group. Start by spending just 5 minutes on 1-3 of these each day and you will quickly see an increase in networking value.
To start, browse the Groups directory to find groups that interest you. LinkedIn allows you to join 50 groups, but it’s not very realistic to expect to get value out of that many groups unless you’re able to dedicate a lot of time to actively participate in all of them. The magic number is up to you, but it should be a list that is manageable and relevant to you.
When you find appropriate groups, request membership (some require manual approval), and you’re ready to go.
Once you’ve joined a group, you can read and share common interest news items. Not only is this a great place to find articles that relate directly to the topic of the group and get to know other members, but this section gives you a chance to share your own articles and posts. You can share things you’ve written or posts that you’ve found useful, just make sure your news items are relevant to the group.
Participate in Discussions
Group members can comment on news items or start specific discussions within the group. You can garner some useful knowledge just by scanning the discussions, but that benefit can be multiplied if you actively contribute. These discussions can be an invaluable way to ask for advice, share your expertise and get your name out there in the group.
Explore the member list of your groups to find other LinkedIn members you may want to connect with. Instead of sending a standard invitation to connect, research who they are, then customize your message spelling out the benefits of connecting with each other. New connections with a common interest are more likely to accept your invitation as well as interact with you. Be selective with whom you send invitations to as quality trumps quantity on LinkedIn.
Share the Group
LinkedIn is based on forging connections with people you relate to — whether through common interests, past or current employers, modes of communication, or overall ideals. So in many cases, a group you find valuable will also be valuable to your connections. You can use the “Share Group” function to let your connections know about the group and invite their participation. This can enrich the value of your entire network.
The best thing you can do with LinkedIn Groups, and the only way to get any real value from them, is by actively participating. You don’t have to spend a lot of time; even small chunks of targeted activity can be beneficial.
How do you use LinkedIn Groups? What is your favorite way to participate?
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